I’ve heard there have been a lot of changes at KBA. What does the new leadership structure look like?
KBA will continue to support a dual leadership structure. Rachel Zivic, in her role as Principal, will focus on ensuring the academic quality that is the hallmark of a KBA education. Deena Sherman, our Executive Director, will focus on ensuring that the operational side of the “house” operates efficiently and effectively.
As part of the leadership team this year, we are pleased to add three teacher-leaders who will work to strengthen our academic program through collaboration and partnership with the classroom teachers. Ilene Mautner has assumed the role of Elementary School Coordinator; Helene Sterling will be the Middle School Coordinator; and Eliana Seltzer will be our Judaic Studies Coordinator.
To learn more about each of these outstanding individuals, please read on.
Rachel Zivic, Principal. Rachel grew up in Chicago, attending Jewish Day School for elementary and high school. She graduated Columbia University, with honors, majoring in religion. After, Rachel attended the Bank Street College of Education in New York City earning her Master in General and Special Education. Rachel taught in 1st, 2nd, and 6th grade prior to moving to Cherry Hill in 2007.
Rachel will be starting her 11th year at Kellman Brown Academy, where she had been the Director of Curriculum and Instruction prior to becoming Principal. She received a Jewish Educators Award from the JEA in 2011, was nominated for the NJAIS Leadership Institute in 2012, and was named to the NJAIS Professional Development Committee in 2013. Rachel served on an NJAIS Accreditation committee in 2016, as well as facilitated a workshop for a consortium of Jewish Day Schools on behalf of the Greater MetroWest Jewish Federation on building a curricular Scope and Sequence. Rachel has written articles for the NJAIS Independent School Magazine, as well as South Jersey Mom.
She loves KBA and looks forward to continuing the tradition of academic excellence in partnership with KBA's faculty and staff.
Deena Sherman, Executive Director. Deena was born and raised in Cherry Hill. She attended Kellman Academy just a few years ago when it was housed at Congregation Beth El. Deena has her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She spent over 20 years working for the Katz JCC and is familiar to many in the community for her time as Associate Director of the JCC Camps at Medford.
A few years ago, Deena decided to take on a new responsibility that kept her connected to the South Jersey Jewish community when she became the Director of Operations for Jewish Federation. She is thrilled to join the Kellman Brown team which allows her to continue to serve the Jewish community she grew up in and raised her children in.
Ilene Mautner, Elementary School Coordinator. Ilene is a veteran kindergarten teacher. In addition to teaching kindergarten this year, she will be working closely with the teachers in grades K-5 to meet each student’s needs.
Helene Sterling, Middle School Coordinator. Helene has been teaching middle school at KBA for the past 27 years. In addition to teaching math in the middle school and coordinating KBA’s technology program this year, she will be working closely with the teachers in middle school to meet each student’s needs.
Eliana Seltzer, Jewish Life Coordinator. Eliana has been the 5th grade Judaic Studies teacher at Kellman Brown Academy for the last five years. Originally from New York, Eliana has always been interested in both formal and informal Jewish education: she has a Master of Jewish Education and a Master of Talmud, and has spent most of her summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. She is excited to bring joyful Judaism, critical thinking, and ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel) to her students and colleagues.
I’ve also heard there are a lot of changes with the faculty. What’s going on?
KBA has been working hard to “right size” its staff to be commensurate with the number of students enrolled. KBA is still proud to have a very strong teacher-to-student ratio, as well as a variety of enrichment and support programs.
What does the future look like for KBA academically? Are we still cutting edge?
2017-2018 is going to be another strong academic year for KBA. Here are some initiatives and programs to look forward to:
STEM Program: KBA is growing its STEM program by welcoming Sherri Quintero as our new Middle School Science & STEM Teacher. Ms. Quintero will be working closely with Chelsea Saraczewski on infusing STEM into all aspects of our curriculum. Ms. Saraczewski will be offering a robotics elective for middle school students this year.
Comprehensive Health Curriculum: KBA is implementing a new comprehensive health curriculum starting in pre-K. It will be taught collaboratively by KBA nurses; guidance counselor, Jill Miller Shaw; and PE teacher, Jesse Zwier. This takes a holistic approach to health, with a focus on the mind, body, and spirit. KBA believes it is never too early to teach children about making healthy choices in their lives.
Names Not Numbers: KBA is participating in the "Better Together: Names Not Numbers" program for a second year. This program will enable 7th and 8th grade students to create a feature-length documentary recording the testimonies of Holocaust survivors in our community. They will be guided by a Holocaust educator, professional journalist, and professional filmmaker in the process.
The original documentary created by recent KBA graduates won the "Audience Choice Award for Best Local Feature Documentary" at the Cherry Hill Volvo Jewish Film Festival and will be rescreened at this year's Walk of Remembrance in October.
Artist in Residence: KBA has been fortunate to again win an “Artists in Education” grant to host a visiting artist to work on a special hands-on project in the elementary grades. The last two years, KBA students have worked with a kinetic sculptor on two large-scale exhibitions. This year, students will work with a professional musician on building musical instruments.
I’ve heard that KBA has been struggling financial, especially in the past year or two. Is KBA going to close?
KBA is here to stay. The new partnership with the Jewish Federation has strengthened KBA’s financial position significantly. With Federation’s help, KBA is starting the new school year with a balanced budget and a strong plan for fundraising and recruiting new families to the school. This will ensure that KBA can continue to look toward the future with confidence.
I heard that the Federation “took over” the KBA Board. Why did that happen and what does that mean for the future of KBA? Can I go to Board meetings?
Federation appointees now comprise a majority of the KBA Board. Federation will lend its expertise to KBA in the areas of operations and financial oversight. In particular, Federation will strengthen KBA with assistance in the marketing, finance, fundraising/development, and human resources departments. KBA strongly believes this new relationship will provide the back-office support and financial guidance it needs to be successful in the coming years, along with dynamic synergies that will benefit both organizations.
Everyone is welcome to attend KBA Board meetings. Board meeting dates and times are noted on the school calendar.
Now that Rabbi Liben has moved on, what is KBA going to do without a rabbi?
KBA is proud to have veteran and knowledgeable Judaic Studies teachers who are taking on additional responsibilities in terms of programming and curriculum building this year.
These teachers are: Chaya Amar, Beth LeVine, Lea Rozovsky, Sarah Salmansohn, Eliana Seltzer, Ayala Varadi, and Tova Yaakoby.
Eliana Seltzer is taking on the role Jewish Life Coordinator and will coordinate various aspects of the holiday programming, tefillah, and Jewish life at KBA.
KBA has named a Rabbinic Advisory Committee to guide the administration, staff, and Board of Directors throughout the year:
- Rabbi Gidon Isaacs (Temple Emanuel)
- Rabbi Aaron Krupnick (Congregation Beth El)
- Rabbi Mendy Mengel (Chabad)
- Rabbi Micah Peltz (Temple Beth Sholom)
KBA will reach out to the community clergy to participate in various events throughout the school year to maintain a rabbinic presence in the school. Our goal is to re-establish and fill the position of Rabbi-in-Residence/Director of Jewish Life and Learning within the next 12-18 months.
I live in an area with great public schools. Why should I choose KBA?
Our highly qualified, caring, creative teachers form the strong foundation on which KBA’s educational quality rests. They are our backbone and one of the primary reasons parents choose KBA. Other reasons for choosing KBA include:
Small class sizes: KBA’s smaller class sizes allow for true individualized learning. Public schools typically have 20 or more students per class, whereas KBA classes average a very manageable 14 students per class.
Dual language program: Studies show that children who are bilingual gain significant cognitive benefits and are more advanced academically and socially than their monolingual peers. KBA students learn to read, write, and speak in Hebrew beginning in preschool.
Gifted and Talented Program: In public schools, Gifted and Talented Programs are typically just 40 minutes once or twice a week. At KBA, enrichment happens all day long in our rigorous, individualized academic program.
Strong STEM education: KBA’s cutting-edge technology program includes coding, computer animated design, 3D printing, 1:1 iPad program for 5th-8th grades, robotics, and design-thinking curriculum.
Academic preparedness: KBA students go on to be in the advanced track in high school and are accepted into top universities across the country.
Academic excellence: At KBA, students learn the art of critical thinking, how to identify and build connections across subjects and topics, and gain self-confidence in their ability to make decisions. KBA doesn’t “teach to the test” or have students spend valuable instructional time taking numerous standardized tests like the PARCC. Even so, KBA students consistently score three grades above their grade level on the yearly Terra Nova test.
Strong Jewish identity: KBA students graduate with confidence in their Jewish identities and in their abilities. They go on to be leaders in their high school classes, as well as their universities.
Top-notch Arts program: KBA offers a vibrant and well-rounded education in the arts, including drama, visual art, digital photography, musical theory, Artist in Residence, cooking, and dance classes.